The Colorado Legislature kicked off its 2018 session this week with broad bi-partisan agreement on the major challenges facing the state, but with little consensus on how to solve them. The Jefferson County Business Lobby was there for the opening ceremonies and will be advocating for the JeffCo business community throughout this intense 120 day legislative session.
The JCBL’s priorities for 2018 include increased transportation funding, easing regulatory burdens to maintain a strong, competitive business environment and helping businesses attract and retain skilled employees through better education and an affordable housing supply.
(You can track the status of JCBL’s priority bills – and help the JCBL communicate those priorities to our legislators – by going to jeffcobusinesslobby.org and clicking on “Take Action” to sign up for legislative updates and alerts.)
The JCBL’s priorities largely match those laid out by the Republican and Democratic leaders in their opening day speeches. JeffCo’s largest problems stem from a fast growing economy and even faster growing population. But, unlike previous years, an unexpected windfall of tax revenue provides the legislature with more resources than normal to address those issues. With the Republicans controlling the state Senate and the Democrats controlling the state House, the question will be finding bi-partisan compromise on spending, refunding or saving that additional revenue.
This week, both sides appealed to the other to work across the aisle, but the realities of the looming 2018 fall election, in which the Senate Republicans risk losing their majority, make that more difficult.
For instance, transportation funding remains a priority for both parties, but it seems unlikely the split chambers can agree on a long-term funding solution this year. The solution will likely be left to the voters in November of 2018 when a measure to increase the state’s sales tax to fund transportation will be on the ballot.
Despite those partisan differences, there are other significant agendas with bi-partisan support that may well see progress this year. Those include increasing funding for rural broadband access and taking some first steps to address the opioid crisis.
The JCBL is already reviewing the nearly 150 bills introduced in just the first days of the session to determine how they will impact businesses in Jefferson County. Again, please visit jeffcobusinesslobby.org to sign up for regular updates on that process and mark your calendars for the JCBL Day at the Capitol on March 6th from 8-11am.